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“I will stand on my guard post

And station myself on the rampart;

And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me,

And how I may reply when I am reproved.”

Question: How can the Lord be a righteous Judge and allow the wicked Chaldeans to be used as an instrument of discipline against His own people?

Today we have unbelieving skeptics and mockers who question the reality of the Second Coming of Christ. Peter warned us of their proud boastings:

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’ For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”



A. (:2) The Lord Goes on Record

1. Charge to Faithfully Record God’s Revelation

“Then the Lord answered me and said, ‘Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets,”

MacArthur: Habakkuk was to record the vision to preserve it for posterity, so that all who read it would know of the certainty of its fulfillment (cf. similar language in Da 12:4, 9). The prophecy had lasting relevance and thus had to be preserved. Although a period of time would occur before its fulfillment, all were to know that it would occur at God’s “appointed time” (cf. Is 13; Jer 50, 51). Babylon would fall to the Medo-Persian kingdom of Cyrus ca. 539 B.C. (cf Da 5).

2. Charge to Faithfully Communicate that Revelation to Others

“that the one who reads it may run.’”

Blue: the point is that the messenger [herald] would read it and then run to spread the news to others.

B. (:3) The Prophecies Will Not Fail

1. The Deadline Has Not Passed

“For the vision is yet for the appointed time;”

2. Rapid Progress is being Made (from God’s Perspective)

“It hastens toward the goal”

3. Fulfillment is Certain

“and it will not fail.”

4. Patience is Needed (Because there is an appearance of delay)

“Though it tarries, wait for it;”

5. Fulfillment is Certain (In actuality there is no delay)

“For it will certainly come, it will not delay.”


A. (:4a) The Unbelieving Proud – Needs a Soul Adjustment

“Behold, as for the proud one,

His soul is not right within him”

B. (:4b) The Believing Righteous – Needs to Stick to His Guns

“But the righteous will live by his faith.”

Stedman: It is interesting that in Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews there is a kind of divine commentary on this verse:

1. Romans stresses what it means to be “righteous.” There we are told that the righteousness of Christ is imparted to us by the gift of God. Righteousness is handed to us. We don’t earn it; we have it the minute we believe.

2. Then the words, “shall live,” are interpreted in Chapter 5 of Galatians, the great chapter on the life in the Spirit. What does “to live” mean? It means to walk in love, and joy, and peace, and longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control.

3. Then the words, “by faith,” are interpreted in Hebrews, the great letter on faith. What does it mean to have faith? It means to trust that the invisible God is working, despite present appearances.

MacArthur: The emphasis in both Habakkuk and the NT references goes beyond the act of faith to include the continuity of faith. Faith is not a one-time act, but a way of life. The true believer, declared righteous by God, will persevere in faith as the pattern of his life (cf Col 1:22, 23; Heb 3:12-14).

C. (:5) Three Summary Charges Against the Proud Chaldeans

1. Deceived into Discontentment by Strong Drink

“Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man,

So that he does not stay at home.”

Blue: The treachery of wine is described in Proverbs 23:31-32. It looks so inviting in the glass but “in the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.”

2. Devoted to Greed and Covetousness

“He enlarges his appetite like Sheol,

And he is like death, never satisfied.”

3. Driven by Ambition and Lust for Conquest

“He also gathers to himself all nations

And collects to himself all peoples.”


MacArthur: Five woes, in the form of a taunt song, were pronounced upon the Chaldeans in anticipation of their eventual judgment. Presented in 5 stanzas of 3 verses each, the 5 woes were directed at 5 different classes of evildoers.

Blue: Woe is an interjection of distress pronounced in the face of disaster or in view of coming judgment (e.g., Isa. 3:11; 5:11; 10:5) because of certain sins.

A. (:6-8) Woe #1 – Extortion — The Looter Will Be Looted

1. Pronouncement of Woe – Extreme Usury

“Woe to him who increases what is not his – For how long –

And makes himself rich with loans?”

2. Painful Taunt Song

“Will not all of these take up a taunt-song against him,

Even mockery and insinuations against him”

3. Promise of Retribution – The Looter Will Be Looted

“Will not your creditors rise up suddenly,

And those who collect from you awaken?

Indeed, you will become plunder for them.

Because you have looted many nations,

All the remainder of the peoples will loot you –

Because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land,

To the town and all its inhabitants.”

Laetsch: The first woe refers to the rapacity of the Chaldean, his eagerness to enrich himself at the expense of others by conquest of their home countries, making vassals of the nations, extorting from them huge contributions of materials, money, and men, bleeding them white.

B. (:9-11) Woe #2 – Exploitation — Ill-Gotten Gains Will Cry Out Against You

1. Pronouncement of Woe – False Security

“Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house

To put his nest on high,

To be delivered from the hand of calamity!”

2. Painful Taunt Song

“Surely the stone will cry out from the wall,

And the rafter will answer it from the framework.”

Blue: Even if every single enemy were exterminated, the very stones and lumber would testify against the rapacious and cruel hands of the Babylonians that had fashioned these building materials to show off their empire’s strength and glory. The stones and timber with which the houses and palaces were built had been obtained through plunder and injustice.

3. Promise of Retribution – Turning the Tables on Their Pride and Sin

“You have devised a shameful thing for your house

By cutting off many peoples;

So you are sinning against yourself.”

C. (:12-14) Woe #3 – Exaltation — Ruthless Kingdom Building Will Be Frustrated By the Dominion of the Messiah

1. Pronouncement of Woe – Malicious Power Play

“Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed

And founds a town with violence!”

2. Painful Taunt Song

“Is it not indeed from the Lord of hosts

That peoples toil for fire,

And nations grow weary for nothing?”

MacArthur: Like a fire that burns everything given to it, their labors would all be futile, having no lasting value (v. 13; cf. Mic 3:10).

3. Promise of Retribution – Kingdom Reversal

“For the earth will be filled

With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,

As the waters cover the sea.”

D. (:15-17) Woe #4 – Excessive Debauchery – The Shamers Will Be Exposed to Public Shame

1. Pronouncement of Woe – Shameful Exploitation

“Woe to you who make your neighbors drink,

Who mix in your venom even to make them drunk

So as to look on their nakedness.”

2. Painful Taunt Song

“You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor.

Now you yourself drink and expose your own nakedness.

The cup in the Lord’s right hand will come around to you,

And utter disgrace will come upon your glory.”

3. Promise of Retribution – Reaping Violence and Devastation

“For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you,

And the devastation of its beasts by which you terrified them,

Because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land,

To the town and all its inhabitants.”

Ryrie: The violence done to Lebanon by several rulers in cutting down its great forests and killing its cattle would be done to Judah (see Isa. 14:7-8).

E. (:18-20) Woe #5 – Extreme Idolatry – The Worshipers of Idols Will Be Mocked

1. Pronouncement of Woe – Foolish Loyalty

“Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’

To a mute stone, ‘Arise!’

And that is your teacher?

Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,

And there is no breath at all inside it.”

MacArthur: Compare the sarcasm with that of Elijah’s words to the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel (1 Ki 18:27; cf. Jer 2:27).

2. Painful Taunt Song

“What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it,

Or an image, a teacher of falsehood?

For its maker trusts in his own handiwork

When he fashions speechless idols.”

3. Promise of Retribution – Conclusion —

Stand in Awe of the Lord of History Who Judges Righteously From His Holy Temple

“But the Lord is in His holy temple.

Let all the earth be silent before Him.”